The Guardian view on animal welfare: keep it up | Editorial

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The Guardian view on animal welfare: keep it up | Editorial

Written by Editorial

Hard-won protections for both humans and livestock are under threat – and worth fighting for

Hunting, scientific experimentation, entertainment, the keeping of pets, farming, fishing, habitat destruction: there is no one story about the way that humans use animals – and cause them to suffer. So far, the UN reported this week, our collective efforts to protect wildlife globally have not succeeded. All 20 of the Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan a decade ago have been missed.

But a gloomy big picture must not blind us to smaller, positive changes. In January, wild animals in circuses became illegal in Britain. Last month, the use of glue traps to catch birds was stopped by President Macron in France. Historically, the UK has played an important part in the development of laws protecting animals. Along with Sweden, it led the way on welfare rules in Europe with an influential report, setting out “five freedoms” to which farm animals should be entitled, published in 1965. The freedoms were the space to turn around, lie down, stand up, stretch, and groom. Having been made law in the UK in 1990, a ban on rearing veal calves in crates became EU-wide in 2006. It was followed by a ban on crates for pregnant sows.

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